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A Fresh Formula: Nigel Slater’s Root Vegetable Korma

Root Vegetable Korma

You know how, when you live with someone, you end up having very specific formulas for takeout? Perhaps it’s just human nature to fall into patterns; when I lived with my best friend in Toronto, we had our takeout sushi routine down to a two-minute art. (One edamame, one California roll, one Spider roll, and one Bento Box A, please- oh, and we’ll send a boyfriend to come pick it up.)

Well, Andrew and I have a very specific formula that we follow when ordering Indian food- we get one vegetable balti (for me), one chicken korma (for him), and one prawn madras or similar (to share). Add an order of rice and a naan to share, and we’re good to go. And I must confess: though I avoid the pieces of chicken, I almost always dip my naan into the korma to soak up some of that mild, creamy sauce. It’s not my favourite curry by any stretch, but an Indian takeout wouldn’t be the same without it.

Root Vegetable Korma

So I wasn’t surprised when my sister gave me Nigel Slater’s Tender, Volume I for my birthday in September, and the first photo that jumped out at me was of a root vegetable korma. I’d never even considered making my own korma before, preferring to stick to spicier and simpler curries for my home cooking. But it seemed like fate that I should make this, particularly as the farmer’s market is crawling with delicious root vegetables right now.

Root Vegetable Korma

I opted to use a combination of carrots, potatoes, swede and jerusalem artichokes, but parsnip, turnip and even beets would also be good here. I quickly realised that the amount of veg stipulated by Nigel would feed a small army, let alone the four adults it claimed to. If there’s anything that I dislike about the man’s books, it’s the portion sizes- they’re always huge. Goodness knows how he stays so trim. I ended up nearly halving the vegetables, and just cutting down on the other ingredients (I like my curry saucy, so as to have an excuse for naan, rice, etc.).

The result was exactly what I was looking for- a homemade korma that tastes homemade. While many commercial kormas are almost cloyingly sweet, this one has a nice tang to it, courtesy of the natural yogurt in the sauce. And despite all the spices and chili, it isn’t too hot at all- perfect for those who like their curries on the mild side. Who knows- making this dish might become part of a new pattern around here.

Note: If you think the texture in this last photo looks slightly off, it’s the rice. I don’t have a microwave, so when I’m reheating 2-part meals like this (curry+rice), I tend to just mix it all together. Slightly less tasty, yet miles easier, than reheating the two separately.

Root Vegetable Korma

  • Nigel Slater’s Root Vegetable Korma
  • adapted from Tender, Volume I by Nigel Slater
  • serves 4, easily
  • 2 small onions
    2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
    thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated roughly
    1 small green chili, finely chopped
    2 tsp. cumin seeds (or pre-ground)
    2 tsp. coriander seeds (or pre-ground)
    2 tsp. ground turmeric
    1/2 tsp. chili powder
    1 tsp. sea salt
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    approx. 870g mixed root vegetables (I used 2 medium carrots, 4 small Charlotte potatoes, 4 jerusalem artichokes, and 1/2 a swede), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
    1/2 cup cashews
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    1/2 cup single cream
    1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 1. Peel the onions and cut them into large pieces. Using a food processor or whatever else you might have (I used an immersion blender, to ill effect), pulse the onions until they form a rough paste. Mix in the garlic, ginger and chopped chili, and set aside.

    2. In a spice grinder (or using a mortar and pestle), grind the cumin and coriander seeds to a fine powder. Mix in the turmeric, chili powder and salt, and set aside. (If you’re using preground spices, simply skip this step.)

    3. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid. When it’s hot, add the onion/garlic/ginger paste and cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. It should soften and become fragrant, but shouldn’t brown.

    4. Add the spice mixture to the onions and mix to combine. Cook for a further two minutes, until everything becomes fragrant.

    5. Add the chopped vegetables and cover everything with approximately 750ml boiling water- enough to nearly cover the vegetables. Partially cover the pan and cook for 25-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and yield to the point of a knife.

    6. While the curry is simmering, toast the cashews in a small pan until browned and fragrant. Set aside.

    7. Take the curry off the heat and gently stir in the yogurt and the cream. The heat of the curry should warm it through, but taste to make sure it’s still hot enough for you. If not, heat it back up over a low heat, but do NOT let the mixture boil at this point; if it does, it will curdle.

    8. Serve over rice or with naan, with the cashews and coriander scattered on top.


  1. Dana says:

    I’m jealous that you have an Indian take-out option. Actually, knowing London, it’s a million options! Indian food is barely in existence here and what you can find is terrible. If I crave it (which I do often), I make it myself. This sounds incredible! I am getting a bunch of Jerusalem artichokes in my next CSA box and this is a wonderful way to use them.

  2. Ele says:

    Dana- You’re right, it’s many options! We live in a relatively secluded, “village-like” area of London, and there are 5 or 6 Indian restaurants in a 3-block area- more than any other type of cuisine! It’s a trade-off, though- I miss all the Japanese and Thai options I used to have in Toronto!

  3. [...] A Fresh Formula: Nigel Slater’s Root Vegetable Korma [...]

  4. [...] November saw me trying some new ideas on for size, too. I was inspired by Sara to make Roasted and Spiced Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes, and tackled an Indian korma for the first time, with the help of Nigel Slater. [...]

  5. Mrs Holdsworth says:

    I have just bought your book which is wonderful to read and has some superb recipes. I wonder if you could let me know where you bought your pestle and mortar from. I have seen you using it on your television programme but can’t seem to find one. Thank you.

  6. Sarah says:

    Looks gorgeous! I’m definitely making this tonight. I make curry pretty frequently but haven’t made a korma before.

    Bombay Bicycle Club used to be great for takeaway, but has really gone downhill lately – their usually inventive menu has been replaced by a lot of badly executed Indian takeaway standards, including a ‘vegetable korma’ in which the only discernible vegetable was a massive overload of barely cooked red peppers. Much better to make your own if you have a good recipe, I think, and this one looks the business. Thanks for sharing!